Wednesday, March 8, 1995
You must excuse this late response to a large mailing from you which has left me, to
say the least, stunned!
My wife, who is Hong Kong Chinese and the only one of her family to reside in the
States, and I were visiting our family in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year's for a month.
Your package must have arrived while we were away and was placed in an out of the way
place in the office where my wife came upon it this afternoon. During our absence the
office was being run by a friend who is familiar with its operation but, I have to admit,
is not overly efficient in a number of areas; I guess Priority Mail being one of them.
I have just come away from the T.V. set after watching the video, which together with
the wealth of very well written material is what has left me _stunned_.
Since I don't have a modem (been waiting for the technology to ctach up with itself) it
obviously won't be possible for me to be reached via Internet, or whatever; I've also been
waiting for that area of the "Info Hiway" to catch up to itself.
Since you have gone to so much trouble, the least I can do is share with you one or two
"bits" concerning Vic and me:
The first day of shooting, which I believe was June 2nd 1962 on, "Any Second
Now" the prop man handed me a Thompson sub-machine gun. "What's this?" I
asked. "It's a Thompson su-", "I know what it is," I said, "but
why?" "Because", Tommy Thompson (our beloved prop man for five years) said,
"that's what officers carried".
Now, I am an experienced hunter and gun owner who does his own reloading, and I had a
hunch we were going to go sometime with the series. "Do you think I'm going to haul
sixteen pounds of steel around for three years? What's the lightest weapon you've
got?" So I was given the .30 caliber
carbine (which would have a hard time dropping a sick mouse) and Vic inherited the .45
Thompson. After two weeks he was so tired from carrying all that metal they had to make a
wooden mock-up for him and the only time he ever used the real one (which was choked down
at the barrel tip to create enough back pressure to throw out the empty shells) was in
fire fight shots for the show. It jammed constantly causing him to use even some four
letter expletives even I had never heard. The carbine was also choked down for back
pressure, but though it's a weapon of very little power, its manners were much more in
keeping with what I needed; hardly ever jammed.
After the show finished, and against Tommy Thompson's beleagured pleas, I walked off
the set with the carbine (registered to the Culver City, CA police dept.) saying that
after five years it was mine! I poured lead in the barrel lest someone hurt himself by
loading a live round into it and placed it in my gun cabinet, where it reposed for about
A wonderful comedian named Charlie Callas came to my house to meet me and when he saw
the piece I had carried during the series he went a little nuts. He's a gun collector who
never shoots a firearm. He was so ingratiating (and funny) that day around the pool and
over cocktails later, that I gave him the carbine as he was leaving. I had grown a little
bored with it, it was taking up space better used by a good shotgun or rifle, and besides,
I have a lousy sense of history.
On a subsequent visit to California (Charlie lived in Teaneck, New Jersey) he called
and told me he had taken the piece to his local bar and the bartender/owner had offered
him six hundred dollars for it to hang over the bar. "You took it, of course," I
said. "Of course NOT," he almost shouted. "But, Charlie," I said,
"you can buy an exact replica in any gun store around here for $89.95!"
"Yeah?" he challenged, "but not not _this_ one!!" and that was the
end of that. I guess he still has it.
Before I say goodbye and thank you - Vic hated firearms, guns of any kind. He could
also break me up any time he chose; a very funny man, he was. To me a gun has always been
just a piece of machinery, I've been around them all my life. One rare afternoon we were
wrapping early, perhaps about 4 P.M. I had a couple of shotguns in back of my station-
wagon so I said to him, "Hey, wanna go shoot some skeet?". "Nah," he
said, "I can't stand to kill clay."
You now have a more direct address, though I can't promise that I'll answer every piece
of mail that comes this way.
P.S. Oh, and thank you for sending all the memorabilia. I'm so pleased I've been able
to entertain you and your numerous friends (and their offspring) these many years. For me,
well, I was just making a living doing what a few people thought I did fairly well.